MIKE COLIAS

Cadillac to shine early spotlight on ATS in Super Bowl return

Mike Colias covers General Motors for Automotive NewsMike Colias covers General Motors for Automotive News
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DETROIT -- General Motors execs have been telling just about anyone who will listen how importantly they view the upcoming launch of the Cadillac ATS sport sedan.

Now, they plan to tell a few hundred million more.

Cadillac will use its first commercial during the Super Bowl since 2007 to showcase the rear-wheel-drive compact -- a full six months before the car arrives in showrooms.

Cadillac spokesman David Caldwell says the spot will focus on the development of the car, which was built from the ground up on a new platform.

The commercial will mirror a series of promotional videos that GM has posted on its Web site in recent months. They show professional drivers lapping the ATS around the famed Nurburgring racetrack in Germany.

GM even dispatched Mark Reuss, its North American president and highest-ranking car guy, for one of the test-drive videos.

After decades of false starts, GM believes Cadillac is ready to take on German luxury stalwarts such as BMW and Mercedes. The ATS is a key test, because for decades Cadillac hasn't had an entry in the compact market, the largest luxury segment in the United States and globally.

At the ATS unveiling at the Detroit auto show this month, Reuss called the ATS "the car to finally challenge the German cars at their own game and win."

Caldwell said GM decided to run an ATS spot in part because it will be introducing Cadillac to a new, younger breed of buyers. But he also says it will showcase Cadillac as a brand and its commitment to making serious performance cars that will compete head on with the Germans.

Cadillac sponsored the Super Bowl postgame show for many years through 2008, the last year it had a commercial on the day of the game.

GM global marketing chief Joel Ewanick told Automotive News at the Detroit auto show that he was considering an ATS Super Bowl spot, even though the car won't be launched until late summer.

"We think it's a big deal," Ewanick said. "It will be a big part of our Olympic push this summer."

You can reach Mike Colias at mcolias@crain.com.

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